When left becomes right and vice versa: mirrored vision after cerebral hypoxia

Pflugshaupt, T; Nyffeler, T; von Wartburg, R; Wurtz, P; Lüthi, M; Hubl, D; Gutbrod, K; Jüngling, FD; Hess, CW; Müri, RM (2007). When left becomes right and vice versa: mirrored vision after cerebral hypoxia. Neuropsychologia, 45(9), pp. 2078-91. Oxford: Elsevier 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2007.01.018

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The combination of acquired mirror writing and reading is an extremely rare neurological disorder. It is encountered when brain damaged patients prefer horizontally mirrored over normal script in writing and reading. Previous theories have related this pathology to a disinhibition of mirrored engrams in the non-dominant hemisphere, possibly accompanied by a reversal of the preferred scanning direction. Here, we report the experimental investigation of PR, a patient who developed pronounced mirror writing and reading following septic shock that caused hypoxic brain damage. A series of five oculomotor experiments revealed that the patient's preferred scanning direction was indeed reversed. However, PR showed striking scanpath abnormalities and mirror reversals that cannot be explained by previous theories. Considered together with mirror phenomena she displayed in neuropsychological tasks and everyday activities, our findings suggest a horizontal reversal of visual information on a perceptual level. In addition, a systematic manipulation of visual variables within two further experiments had dramatic effects on her mirror phenomena. When confronted with moving, flickering or briefly presented stimuli, PR showed hardly any left-right reversals. Not only do these findings underline the perceptual nature of her disorder, but also allow interpretation of the pathology in terms of a dissociation between visual subsystems. We speculate that early visual cortices are crucially involved in this dissociation. More generally, her mirrored vision may represent an extreme clinical manifestation of the relative instability of the horizontal axis in spatial vision.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Further Contribution)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurology
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > UPD Murtenstrasse

UniBE Contributor:

Pflugshaupt, Tobias; Nyffeler, Thomas; von Wartburg, Roman; Wurtz, Pascal; Hubl, Daniela; Gutbrod, Klemens; Hess, Christian Walter and Müri, René Martin








Pascal Wurtz

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:56

Last Modified:

20 Feb 2015 02:06

Publisher DOI:


Web of Science ID:





https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/23819 (FactScience: 44540)

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